As a cunning plan it didn’t quite succeed. After last weekend with wall-to-wall 5MHz activity, I thought I would break with my mid-week activation habit and give some of the weekend-only chasers a likely new one. Accordingly I alerted for Botley Hill G/SE-005 with an ETA of 1345, and the intention of trying 80/60/40/30 to cover as many options as possible. I parked at my new preferred spot just north of the road junction at TQ386546. This is a short track with a turning place and parking spot just before the “Private Road” sign. From there it is a gentle stroll north along the bridleway for a few hundred metres until the track comes to a summit at TQ384552. There is a gateway to allow setting up away from the track itself, along with fences to assist with the erection of HF antennae. It is a quiet and rural spot, certainly by comparison with other locations on this summit, with just a handful of walkers and cyclists passing in the hour or so I was there.
As usual I started on 40m CW. As I switched the rig on I could hear Klaus DF2GN/P from DM/BW-160, and a quick s2s followed. I then moved slightly HF to call CQ and found another nine chasers before the queue disappeared. At this point Ambrosi HB9AGH informed me that SOTAwatch was down, so at least I knew why some of the usual suspects had not appeared in the log. I then moved to 3561 and called CQ SOTA. After a few calls somebody appeared, very weak, and sent “SOTA?” several times. Despite my best efforts they failed to hear me sufficiently well to make a QSO, or send their callsign. With no success on 80m I moved to 10116 and tried there. Once again there was no response to my calls, and the only stations I could hear were Russian.
Plugging the microphone in, I switched to 60m. I immediately heard Andy MM0FMF/P on channel FE, and completed another s2s, this time with GM/SS-123. Moving to channel FM, I called CQ and found another five chasers. I know there were some others around but, with SOTAwatch down, there seemed no way to attract them to where I was. How much we have come to rely on SOTAwatch!! Finally I gave a few calls on 2m FM and SSB, without any great expectation of a reply, and I surely was not disappointed!!
At some stage I will return to Botley Hill again, on a weekend, and make another attempt to catch those elusive weekenders…
73 de Les, G3VQO